I’VE been reflecting. Thinking back to the time I took the biggest trust fall of my life and left the safety of my corporate desk job.
When I leapt, I had no savings. No safety net. No big windfall or inheritance coming my way. Just lots of debt and massive dreams. And when I say dreams, I don’t mean fluffy clouds, unicorns and pink bunny rabbits – I mean real, solid intentions and a heap of drive, ambition and self belief.
Not everyone believed in me back then.
GET A PROPER JOB
I remember my doctor telling me I’d never make money with my choice of work. I remember a business coach sending me halfway across the country to chase work that would’ve meant pretty much prostituting myself at a ridiculous fee per hour, instead of really listening to what I wanted to do. I remember family members telling me to get another ‘proper’ job. I remember people telling me ‘stick with what you know’ or giving me *that* look when I told them of my plans.
SELF-EMPLOYMENT AIN’T EASY
Here’s the thing: self employment ain’t easy. Sure, wearing those ‘grass is greener’ glasses from the safety of your 9-5 and looking at all those people in ‘nice’ cars working to their own timeframes, self employment looks idyllic. Trouble is, most of those cars are on HP or lease, and the freedom you see is very often because your self-employed pals don’t have enough work coming in to fill their time. Sometimes – just sometimes – they’ll be driving around in those flashy cars wondering how they’ll make next month’s payment – let alone pay the mortgage and feed their family.
Self employment isn’t all about living the dream. At least not at first. It’s a hard slog, filled with uncertainty – and if you get stressed about where the cash is going to start flowing from, you can’t get signed off on sick leave and bask in the knowledge that your wages will still land in your bank account. When you first step onto the self employment stage it’s rarely easy. Once you’ve paid for your snazzy business cards and fiddled about with WordPress and shifted out of that initial rush of ego and freedom, self employment can be a scary, scary place. Tag. You’re it. Buck stops with you for everything.
Am I trying to put you off? No – absolutely not. But, it IS important to balance your dreams with some realism.
Self employment reality check list:
1. Free-flowing, big money contracts will not just continuously land in your lap.
2. Word of mouth recommendations don’t happen without you getting off your backside, putting in the grind and showing the world how valuable you are in order to get those recommendations in the first place. (Trust me – your mum’s testimonial and a few favourable words from your drinking buddies will only get you so far.)
3. I don’t care what your pal’s brother claims to be doing… you can’t just buy a Ferrari and a six bedroom mansion and claim it all back in tax. And even if you could, you’d still need some mighty capital up front.
4. You’ve been misled, friend – there isn’t shedloads of Government funding to get you set up and keep you in comfort.
5. It’ll take more than an iPhone and a Facebook page to turn you into a success.
6. Don’t rely on all that protection you’ve been paying for on your loans and credit cards. They won’t kick in if you’re starting your own business – no matter how poor you claim to be.
7. If you want an easy life, starting your own business probably isn’t for you.
8. There’ll be a lot more costs than you initially anticipate – insurances, networking, equipment, phone lines, branding, marketing… the list goes on. Oh and taxes will need paying too… you don’t just get to keep all that cash you earn.
9. You’ll need more than self belief and a dream. Seriously. You’ll need endless supplies of energy, heaps of staying power and more determination than you’ve ever dreamed of. A thick skin will also help, because there will be naysayers at every turn.
10. How attached are you to those nice holidays? You might need to park them for the foreseeable future!
Are you still determined after reading all that? Do you have what it takes? Because if you do, there’s no doubt we have more at our fingers to turn our aspirations into reality now than ever before. We have social media, we have really good networking events, we have technology that takes away geographical limits. The playing field’s a lot more level than it used to be. Remember though, that means it’s the same for everyone!
CROSSED FINGERS AND CAR BOOTS
Let me say this. I am not a drowning in cash. Far from it. My life is richer than it’s ever been and I’m proud of all I’ve achieved so far, but it hasn’t been easy. There have been stresses and strains and tears and tantrums and one particularly difficult patch a few years back where we were searching the house for things to sell and surviving on crossed fingers and car boot sales.
Energy ebbs and flows – money is just energy, so the same applies. Cash comes in, cash goes out, then it comes in again and the cycle repeats. Over time, the numbers get bigger, but the tidal effect will always be there. That takes some adjusting to when you’re used to a regular paycheck!
Even with all that, I’m living my dream. I’m walking my talk, and I don’t ever plan on turning back. It’s a Sunday evening and I’m writing this blog instead of relaxing in front of the telly… and it doesn’t feel a bit like work, because I’m following my calling. I’m carving out MY future instead of being paid to slog my guts out to create someone else’s dream.
DO YOU WANT IT ENOUGH?
If you want it enough. If you have the belief, the guts and the staying power to make it happen, get out there and do it. But if you’re looking for an easy ride, best stay where you are and hold onto that security. Be prepared to give it your all, or stick with the desk job. There’s no shame in that if it fills you up.
Whether you choose to work for yourself or someone else, #UnleashYourAwesome – and don’t let the limiting beliefs and negative world view of others cloud your vision.
PS: if you’ve decided to go for it, you might want a mentor who’s been there. Drop me a line – Taz@TazThornton.com